Shabbos Parshas Shimini – April 13 -14, 2018

  • Sheloshim for Reb Avraham Mordechai Janowski
  • Yahrzeit for the Yunge Bubbi- 1 Rosh Chodosh Iyar
  • The Legacy of Nadav V’Avihu

Sheloshim for Reb Avraham Mordechai Janowski

This Shabbos is the Sheloshim for our dear Uncle, Avraham Mordechai Janowski.  His parents, Eliyahu and Shoshana Bracha Janowski, had 4 children; Kelcha, Simon (my father-in-law), Sam, and the youngest son, Reb Avraham Mordechai.  His kids, Rachel and Aryeh Benjamin, made a Kiddush for their father at Bnei Ruvain. I davened at Bnei Ruvain in honor of my uncle. I took Naftali with me.  Of course Naftali disappeared and came back right before the opening of the ark. And of course, when the ark was about to be opened, Naftali zoomed up to the ark and opened it.  Since Naftali was born, there was a new condition in the world. Naftali has first rights to opening the ark in the entire world, even if someone else was given the honor and paid for it

The Kiddush was sumptuous, including sushi salad.  Aryeh Benjamin spoke beautifully about his father in law.  He praised his wife, Rachel, for her dedication to her father.  

I spoke about Reb Avraham Mordechai Janowski, and then made a Siyum on Meschita Avodah Zarah.  I felt a kinship to him. He and his wife graciously made a Shevah Brochos for me when I married Serka in May 1980.  I was impressed by his family. They had a very nice suburban home on Cactus Drive in Toronto in the Bnei Torah neighborhood.  I was (and some say, still) a ghetto Jew.  My family and I lived in an apartment in the city. We were not upwardly mobile and did not move to the suburbs with the majority of Jews, primarily secular Jews.  I would visit Reb Avraham Mordechai when I would go into Toronto. I did not realize his name was Avraham Mordechai. Avraham Mordechai is a major Gerrer name as it is the name of the oldest son of the Chidusshei Harim.  The Janowski family in Europe was Gerrer Chassidim, so it is very lively that he was named for the Chidusshei Harim’s son (or the Imrei Emes).

Shalosh Seudas Meal – The Legacy of Nadav V’Avihu

I spoke at the Shalosh Seudas meal.  I dedicated my Torah to:

  • The Sheloshim of my uncle Reb Avraham Mordechai Janowski
  • The 85th Yahrzeit of my mother’s Bubbe, known as the Yunge Bubbi.
  • To a speedy recovery for my mother who was in the hospital

When I first learned about Nadav and Avihu, I had a hard time with the unfairness of it all – to his father, Aaron, and the Jewish people.  Is this the legacy of the Jewish people that even in a time of great joy, we have to have tragedy? What was their sin that had to be a tragedy?   The simple answer is that, imagine at the inauguration of a President in the US, a soldier breaks protocol and does something on his own. That soldier would be reprimanded by either being  put in the brig, reduced in rank, or even discharged from the Army. If it happened with a King, that soldier would in all likelihood be executed on the spot. What Nadav and Avihu did was equally as bad.  

Let us understand the event in depth.  The following Verses discuss the death of Nadav and Avihu and its  aftermath.

Vayikra – Chapter 10:

Verse 1 tells us what Nadav and Avihu did –

And Aaron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, each took his pan, put fire in them, and placed incense upon it, and they brought before the Lord foreign fire, which He had not commanded them.                                             

Verse 2 tells us how they died:

And fire went forth from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.

Verse 3 tells us what Moshe told Aaron and that Aaron was silent, he accepted what happened:

Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, [when He said], ‘I will be sanctified through those near to me, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ “And Aaron was silent.

Verse 4 and 5 talk about removing the dead bodies –

  1. 4. And Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel, and said to them, “Draw near; carry your brothers (actually first cousins) from within the Sanctuary, to the outside of the camp.
  2. 5.  So they approached and carried them with their tunics to the outside of the camp, as Moses had spoken.

Verse 6 and7  tells Aaron and his remaining g sons that they should not go into mourning –

  1. 6.  And Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and to Ithamar, his sons, “Do not leave your heads unshorn, and do not rend your garments, so that you shall not die, and lest He be angry with the entire community, but your brothers, the entire house of Israel, shall bewail the conflagration that the Lord has burned
  2. 7.  And do not go out of the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, lest you die, because the Lord’s anointing oil is upon you.” And they did according to Moses’ order.

Verse 7 – 11 warns Cohanim not to walk into the Ohel Moad after drinking wine.

Verse 12 goes back to the story of the dedication of the Mishkan.

Nadav and Avihu’s sin:

Aaron sees his dead sons.    Aaron is beyond words, The Ranban says the Aaron is weeping loudly.  At that moment Aaron was agonizing over the following:

1)  He sees his two sons’ dead.  

2)  He also sees his sons ignore the two great leaders, their uncle and father, Moshe and himself.   Not only that, they walked into the Mishkan after drinking wine. He is aghast.

Rashi on Verse 2 brings down two opinions. 1) Rebbe Eliezer who says that they decided a question of Jewish law themselves and did not go to their leaders, Moshe and Aaron.  2) Rebbe Yishmoel says that Nadav and Avihu entered the Mishkan after having drunk wine.

3)  He blames himself.   He feels he failed his kids.

Rashi on Verse 12 says that at as result of his sin by the golden calf, all of Aaron’s 4 sons were to die as punishment.  Moshe prayers helped to save two of them.

4)  Aaron   is worried that even his remaining two sons would die.

In Verse 3 Moshe consoles Aaron and Rashi eloquently explains:

‏וגו‎‎‎הוא אשר דבר ה:    ‎ THIS IS WHAT GOD SPOKE, etc. — Where had He spoken this? In the statement (Exodus 29:43), “And there I will be met by the children of Israel and the Tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory (בכבודי).” Read not here בִכְבוֹדִי, “by My Glory” but בִּמְכֻבָּדַי, “through My honoured ones” (Zevachim 115b). “

Moses here said to Aaron:    “ אָחִי אַהֲרֹן” –  “Aaron My brother!”  with all the love of one brother to another – do not agonize over the circumstances and death of your sons –

“I knew that this House was to be sanctified by those who are beloved of the Omnipresent God and I thought it would be either through me or through thee; now I see that these (thy sons who have died) are greater than me and than thee!” (Leviticus Rabbah 12 .

Aaron – your sons were  great people, greater then us two.  The death of your two sons was preordained by God, their death had to happen at this time.   Do not focus on our and their shortcomings, we are all human. What happened is Gods plan.

Aaron accepts Moshe’s words and is consoled as he silences himself.    

Nadav is an accepted Jewish name.

Rashi on Verse 4 says that Moshe told Aaron’s nephews to remove the dead bodies, as not to disturb the joy of the dedication of the Mishkan.  The Mishkan and its deduction was a great moment for the Jewish people and  the Jewish people. The Mishkan is God’s place in this world. The acceptance by God and bringing his presence into the Mishkan is evidence that the sin of the golden calf was forgiven.   Rashi In effect is saying the death of Nadav and Avihu in Gods plan is not a tragedy. in fact the Nadav and Avihi are rejoicing as their souls ascend heavenward towards God. If I may add, the same way we believe that those that were martyred in the holocaust, were embraced by God as their souls rose heavenward.   Moshe understands and relates to Aaron that Nadav and Avihu in the next world are in joy realize they were integral to building and dedicating the Mishkan, therefore remove their bodies and let the joy continue. If I have the Chutzpah to suggest the martyrs of the holocaust were integral to creating a State of Israel and the building of Torah both in Israel and America.
During the week of Pesach Shenei I was by the Shul in Buckingham and Rabbi Unger spoke between Mincha and Maariv.  Rabbi Unger mentioned a Chidusshei Harim. Pesach Shenei is discussed in Numbers 9:6-13. Mishael and Elzaphan want desperately to do a Korban Pesach and go to Moshe and Aaron expressing   their desire to serve God like the rest of the Jews. Verse 8 says:

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֖ם משֶׁ֑ה עִמְד֣וּ וְאֶשְׁמְעָ֔ה מַה־יְּצַוֶּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה לָכֶֽם:

The Rim focuses on the last work in Verse 8 –  לָכֶֽם:.
Moshe says, what God will answer “you”, how will He respond to your strong wish to get closer to God.   The Rim continues and says that Hashem created a new law just for them. There is a make up Pesach sacrifice for them.  This is something we find no where else in the Torah. This was enacted solely because of the desire for Mishael and Elzaphan for closeness to God.  Perhaps this is the answer to Nadav and Avihu. Nadav and Avihu wanted to feel closeness to God. However, they decided for themselves how to get closer to God.  Our spiritual needs cannot be met by innovating against the Torah. Mishaal and Elzaphan wanted the same close spiritual connection to God. In contrast to their cousins, they went to their leaders to Moshe and Aaron and said we want to feel this closeness to God; we want to bring a Pesach Sacrifice.


BALTIMORE – A Jewish Wedding

July 27, 2013 – Saturday Night 10:30 PM – Motzei Shabbos:

Left Chicago for a 12 hour drive to Baltimore for Nachum Caplan’s wedding. I had 15 hours to make the afternoon wedding in Baltimore. 2:15 PM Kabulis Ponim and 3:00 PM Chuppah.

I folded the seats in the second and third row so I would have a comfortable place to sleep. I had my son Eli download Torah classes. I first listened to two Blatt of Daf Yomi. I was frustrated because I could not think through my drowsiness to fully understand the Shiurim. Pulled over at 1:30 PM to sleep for an hour and again at 4:00 PM. I got up at 6:30 AM. I was still tired, so I purchased a 5 hour energy drink. The drink hit me with a boost of energy and I was wide awake. I used up my three hour window, so I had to put the pedal to the metal.

I listened to two classes on Zionism from Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner given in Toronto. The classes were: The Roots of Anti- Zionism and the Unique Zionism of Menachem Begin, Was Menachem Begin a Religions Zionist. Great lectures.  One thing that was said is that one of the reasons for opposition to the Zionist movement was the way the religious  Jews were supported.  They had no economic base.  It was done from donations collected from Hungary and Poland and divided  among the people.    Israel was to be a spiritual place only.   The Zionists wanted to build up a land so that the jews in Israel would be self-sustaining.  My great-great grandfather, the Kozker – Pilaver Rebbe wrote in the 1880’s in his prophetic book, Sholem Yerushalim, that there is no commandment to live in Israel and be supported by donations from outside Israel.  Israel is to build up as an agricultural society and be self sustaining.  When I saw this, I understand the opposition to my great, great-grandfather.  I believe that this idea was also the position of Rabbi Yosef Chaim Engel, the author fo the Gelyon Hashas.

I had a problem as I would be pulling into the wedding right before the ceremony. I would prefer a shower, however I did not think it would happen. My mother called me a 1:00 PM that the caterer, Simcha Gross (who shadowed the holy Reb Naftoli in camp), would help. I called Simcha Gross and he told me that I can shower and change at the wedding hall. Problem solved thanks to my mother.

I pulled in at 2:56 PM, met Simcha Gross, thanked him profusely, showered, changed, and made it to the wedding as they were starting the Bedecking. I wished everyone a Mazel Tov. It was great. I was the sole representative of my family. My aunt, the grandmother of the Groom teared up when she saw me. The 12 hour drive and lack of sleep was all worth it.

Bonus – Rabbi Efrem Goldberg came in for the wedding. I thanked him for everything.

Even better, Rabbi Jonathan and Mashie Gross, the Rabbi in Middle America,  were at the wedding. Mashie is from Baltimore and they were visiting her parents.

Great wedding. Good meal. Thank you Simcha Gross for putting out the smorgasbord food during the meal. Everyone was happy, much dancing. After the wedding went to my cousin’s house, Elya and Chanie. Got a chance to catch up with this side of the family. My aunt was there along with some of her kids. Great conversation. Went to bed at 12:30 AM.

 In Baltimore, right after the wedding at Shomrei Emunah, I met a man whose wife is a descendant of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1881).  I expressed my love of the book of Haphtarah’s from Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch.   Among Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s themes is the need for Jews to be the Light to the Nations.  I also see Zionism as a major theme.   I reconcile the Zionism of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch to religious Zionism.   He said that Jews can only go back to Israel with God bringing the messiah and the Jews have to wait in Europe and America.  Had Rabbi SRH seen the Dreyfus trial, the Kishinev massacre, spoken to Herzl, and read Moses Hess’s Rome and Jerusalem his views would have changed.

July 29, 2013 – Monday Morning:

Opened my eyes at 7:00 AM. Stayed in bed as it was the morning after. I felt a headache coming on, so I stayed in bed. Made it to the Agudah at 8:20 AM for morning prayers.

Went to visit Rabbi Jonathan Gross’s father in law, Aaron, Mashie’s father. I had a great visit. We are very much alike and enjoyed his company. They have a lovely home. Aaron has a mini-farm in his backyard. He gave me two bottles of his home-made wine. Aaron and his wife grew up in the 60s and 70s. We shared stories. Aaron should be teaching kids farming, carpentry, and other practical courses. He would be perfect.

At 10:30 AM left Baltimore.

Whirlwind of Simchos


I had a wonderful May and June. It was a whirlwind of family Simchos and I was able to visit with most of the family. The kids are going to be okay.

I met a number of Rabbonin and people much greater than me, including but not limited to:

Rabbi Jonathan Gross, Rov of Beth Israel Synogague, Omaha, NE and my cousin.

Rabbi Abraham Kelman, Rov of Prospect Park Shul, Brookyn, NY.  Rabbi Kelman inspired me to learn about Kotzker Chassidus and is a cousin via marriage to me.

Rabbi Yitzchok Wasserman, Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshvia Toras Chaim, Denver, CO.  Rabbi Wasserman is a cousin of Rabbi Avrohom Kelman, who is a cousin to me via marriage.

Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshvia Toras Chaim, Denver, CO

Rabbi Solomon Maimon, Rov of Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation, Seattle, WA 

Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, Rov of Boca Raton Synogague, Boca Raton, FL

Rabbi Ben Sugerman, Rov of Boca Raton Synogague, Boca Raton, FL

Rabbi Zev Reichman Rov of the East Hill Synogague, Englewood, NY and RAM in YU.

Rabbi Sholem Baum, Rov of Keter Torah of Teaneck, NJ

Rabbi Stanley Miles, Rabbi of Temple Sholem in Louisville, KY

Rabbi Moshe Peleg and Rabbi Pinchos Levy of Jerusalam of Beera Miriam Seminary located in the Ben Yehuda area,

Chazzan Moshe Kraus of Ungvar, Hungary; Muncaz, Hungary; and Ottawa, CA

Rabbi Elliot Gertel , Rabbi of Rodfei Tedek in Hyde Park, Chicago, IL

Rabbi Moshe Schmuel Rotenberg, Rov of Rotenberg’s Shul on East 28th and Avenue R, Brooklyn, NY

Rabbi Barry Freundel, Rov of Kesser Israel in Georgetown, D.C.  Kesser Israel was the first great Shul across America I attended in 1978 when Rabbi Israel Rabinowitz was Rabbi.

Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Levin of Lower Merion, PA, grandson of the holy Rabbi Aryeh Levin.  Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Levin was the first child named after Reb Avrohom Yitzchok Kook, after Rabbi Kook passed away.

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Janowski of Coral Springs, FL, RAM in the Lubavitch Yeshiva in Coral Springs, FL and  my nephew.


  • May 1-6, 2013 – Boca Raton, FL.  Upsherin of my grandson, Aryeh Moshe Levy
  • May 7, 2013 -Brooklyn, NY.   Being honored by Yeshiva Toras Chaim.  Highlight             was giving Ephraim Chase and Rabbi Yitzchok Wasserman shoes.
  • May 12, 2013 – Philadelphia, PA.   Shoshana Parker’s wedding
  • May 24-26, 2013 – Omaha, NE.    Hosted by Rabbi and Rebbitzen Jonathan Gross
  • May 30, 2013 – Chicago, IL.         Dinner with Chazzan Moshe Kraus and Chazzan Silber
  • June 1, 2013 – Brooklyn, NY.        Amitai Schwartz’s Auf Ruf
  • June 2, 2013 – Closter, NJ.            Amitai Schwartz’s weddingimage001
  • June 9, 2013 – Lakewood, NJ.      Chana Tzipora Saltz’s wedding.
  • June 12, 2103 – Chicago, IL            Had dnner with Rabbi Moshe Peleg and Rabbi Pinchos Levy  both of Jeruslaem,  June 13, 2013 – Chicago, IL.         Dinner with Avi Maza at Milt


The below Torah though has been percolating in my head for years and this year I am writing about it. Chapter 20, Verse 1 in this week’s Bible portion states:

א  וַיָּבֹאוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל כָּל-הָעֵדָה מִדְבַּר-צִן, בַּחֹדֶשׁ הָרִאשׁוֹן, וַיֵּשֶׁב הָעָם, בְּקָדֵשׁ; וַתָּמָת שָׁם מִרְיָם, וַתִּקָּבֵר שָׁם. 1 And the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.
What is unique about this Verse?

Observation 1:
The Bible portion before this Verse is about the laws of the Parah Aduma, the Red Heifer. That Bible portion and everything before this verse in B’Midbar (Numbers) took place in the second year of leaving Egypt. The previous verse to Chapter 20, Verse 1 was the final verse of the laws of the Red Heifer. The very next verse, Chapter 20, Verse 1 takes place 38 years later. In one verse 38 years pass, seemingly uneventful. There is zero mention in the Bible as to what happened during these 38 years. People lived their lives, had children, got married, mourned their losses, but nothing eventful happened that the Bible felt it was important to mention.

Observation 2:
Compounding this is the first story in year 40 is the death of Miriam. This makes sense as the Bible is telling us of the passing of the old generation to make way for new leadership. However, Miriam dies and there is no water. Over 3 million people are dying of thirst. The same complaints heard 40 years ago by their parents, are echoed by the children, Why did you take us out of Egypt. This is followed by Moshe hitting the rock and not speaking to it, saying, “listen you rebels” and Moshe being punished. Tough times again. Nothing changed.

To me the simple but unsatisfying answer for the second observation and without looking at the Commentators is that life is tough. Nothing changed. Despite the fact that the Jews had all their needs met in the desert for 40 years, they still had to live life and life is not idyllic. I will say that in our day and age, for many people life has never been this good. However, don’t ever think that you can float by in life. Life will always catch up.

Comment on Observation 1:
I told the below to Rabbi Lopatin and he did not think I was correct. However, the below is my gut feel.

Time passes. Whether we live for 20 years or 80 years, after those 80 years life ceases and your 80 years is no different than that of another person living for 20 years, both are gone. Sometimes a full life is 20 years, sometimes 80 years, and sometimes one day. The quality is the same. We know that someone can acquire merit in the world to come in one hour. This is what the Torah is saying about the Jews in the desert. The years that mattered to the destiny of the Jewish people were up to and including year 2 after leaving Egypt and year 40. The intervening years were unimportant. Year 2 merges with year 40 and that is the continuum of time.

I have a friend who I did not see for 30 years. He moved on to Israel, married, had kids, etc. When I first met with him after the 30 years absence. I was looking for that youthful person I knew from 30 years earlier. I did not see it in him and I could not relate to my friend. I wondered what happened to the young man I met and it bothered me. We were sitting together the last time I was in israel and he sang. He was a Chazzan and only then was I able to see the same person from 30 years earlier. Time merged and the 30 years dropped out of the time continuum.

This coming Wednesday, Tamuz 11, is my father’s Yahrzeit. I did not see my father from 1970 to 1994, for 24 years. I spoke to him on the phone but it was not a relationship. My mother was very angry that I went to visit, but it was something I had to do. On January 17, 1994 when I knocked on his door, and for the next 8 years I went twice a year to visit him we did have a relationship. I was with my father from the date I was born in 1953 to 1970, then from 1994 to his death in 2002. 1970 merged with 1994 and it was a continuous relationship. The distance of time did not matter. It was an entire lifetime. The 24 years just dropped out of the timeline. This is what observation 1 in communicating. At times life truncates, years merge, and intervening years drop out because they do not matter to the relationship. I believe similar to Yaakov our forefather. My years may be off, but he leaves his father at age 58, comes back to his father at age 94, is with his father for 15+- years, goes thorough suffering when his son, Joseph, is gone for 22 years, reunites with Joseph at age 130. It is a great life, the bad times are gone and it is glorious life bound together by the times he spent with his father and with Joseph in peace and harmony.

Korach (and family email)

This is an e-mail sent to my family on 6/29/2008.  A beautiful Vort on this week’s sedra is in the e-mail.

From: Mitch Morgenstern
Sent: Sunday, June 29, 2008 8:35 PM
To: Mitch Morgenstern
Subject: Update

It has been a while.  I hope everyone if fine.  It is a quarter-end at work and I am busy.  But then, I am always busy.

Last Wednesday we had lunch with Kenny and Tzippy who were in Chicago for a wedding.

Shoshana, Danny, Tova Tamara, and Tiferet Tzippora moved to Indianapolis.  They are settling in.

I am trying to get into marathon training.  I ran 6 miles today, not enough.  The weather was perfect at 70 degrees.

Martin– How is your running going.  I am looking forward to December.

Menucha – please send me stories about your father, what he stood for, what he said about his family in Europe.  Why he left Europe, etc. etc.  Write a biography about your parents.  Thanks.

The following is the words of Torah, I developed and spoke out this Shabbos.  I have attached a scan of the sources.

1) In this past Shabbos’s Torah portion – Korach challenged Moshe’s leadership.  Korach initially appears to be motivated by spirituality, however, he aligns himself with bad characters, Dasan and Aviram, the same Dasan and Aviram who were Moshe’s enemies from Egypt.  Who can forget Edward G. Robinson’s great portrayal of Dasan (or Dathan) in the movie, the Ten Commandments.  I read that Edward G. Robinson was the only Jewish actor in the movie.

2)  Moshe sends a messenger to Dasan and Aviram to meet with Moshe and try to make peace.  Dasan and Aviram reject’s Moshe’s olive branch, refuses to meet with Moshe, and sends a verbal assault via the messenger back to Moshe, as conveyed in verses 13 and 14..



 Verse 15 says


I thought the  word   image009 meant “anger”. I was surprised that Rashi translates it as “distressed” .  Rashi choose to not translate V”Yichar word as anger.  Rashi seems to argue on Targum Onkyls who translates V’Yichar as anger.      Per Rashi, Moshe was distressed, grieved.  Refer to the scanned attachment for Rashi.  It is clear that image009 by itself does not mean anger.  The source of Rashi is the Medresh, as follows:

image010Refer to the explanation in the bottom of the Medresh who explains it, as follows:

 When someone has an argument with another and is able to respond to his antagonist, the person has satisfaction (he is able to answer the verbal assaults).  However, when the person being attacked – the victim, cannot answer his antagonist, the victim  has pain, grief, and aggravation.  Dasan and Aviram challenged Moshe’s leadership.  They did not appear before Moshe with their attack, so that  Moshe could not respond to them.  Moshe tried to make peace, they turned on him, and got the upper hand.  Moshe was publicly humiliated, embarrassed and he was distressed.

This is the meaning of the word – image011

I want to add another meaning of the Medresh.

The Medresh employees the words   image012   image013  .  These words imply personal satisfaction and not answering your enemy or being victorious.

I want to say that the Medresh is telling us a comment on  human psyche.  If we are fighting with someone and we answer that person, we have personal satisfaction and we are at peace with ourselves.  However, if we do not answer a verbal assault on ourselves, then we have pain and anguish.  It eats away at us, with negative, negative results. It can take years to forget the hurt.

A personal story to illustrate.

Years ago,  two distant cousins of mine were talking to one another and the older gentleman tried to humiliate his younger cousin.    He said that he does not see how his cousin is a Kotzker descendant, because his cousin was not sharp.  Neither my cousin nor I, who witnessed this exchange, answered these older gentlemen.     The younger cousin was silent in the face of a verbal assault.  He should have said and could have said that the older gentlemen was at one time the Rabbi of a non-Orthodox  Synagogue, that he is not trustworthy, that his business ethics could be questioned, and that it is doubtful that  he served Kosher food in his business to Jewish residents.

It would have been different if my cousin had a ready answer,  but we both held our tongues.   It was true that my younger cousin  does not have the Kotzker sharpness.   The correct answer is that there are many aspects of Kotzker Chassidus and this individual did not embody at all Kotzker Chassidus.  He did have a quick mind, but otherwise was a boor.   This hurt my younger cousin for years


The Yunge Bubbe’s Yahrzeit and Family News

Today is the Yahrzeit of my mother’s grandmother, (Alta) Chana Henya Sklar , who left this world on the first of Iyar, April 27,  1933.  (Alta) Chana Henya Sklar was the mother of my Zeidi, Reb Sholom Sklar.   She was known as the Yunge Bubbe (young  grandmother).

The Alte Bubbe (older grandmother) was the mother of Archik Tikotsky.  Archik

Alte BubbeTikotsky was married to Beilke, the oldest sister of my Zedie.  She and her husband brought the family to America in the early part of the 20th century, with my Zeide coming last in 1924.  Beilke is buried in the old Krinker cemetery, which I cannot find.    The Alte Bubbe lived by my Zeide because her kids were no longer Orthodox.  My mother told me that she died in my Zeide’s arms. Continue reading “The Yunge Bubbe’s Yahrzeit and Family News”

Pesach 2013

I would like to wish everyone a holiday that is joyous, festive, and inspiring.   Mazel Tov to Daniel and Chayala Glenner of the birth of a son, and to Menachem Mendel and Shoshana Janowski on the birth of a son.  Daniel and Chayla named thier baby Yehoshua Nissan, after Chayala’s great – grandfather and a great-great grandfather.  Menacham Mendel and Shoshana’s baby’s Circumcision should, God willing, take place on Shabbos, 3/24/13.

(Mazel Tov – the baby’s name is Itamer Yaakov.  This is indeed a great Simcha and the name Itamer Yaakov is after my father-in-law, Itamer Yaakov Janowski.)

Mazel Tov to Yossi and Elisheva Chase on the birth of a daughter, this past Tuesday.  The baby naming and Kiddush is this Shabbos at Bais Chaim Dovid East, Rabbi Menachem Fine.

Continue reading “Pesach 2013”

Avrumi Perl’s Bar Mitzvah – February 25-27, 2012

Last week at this time I was in Toronto for Avrohom – Avrumi Perl’s bar Mitzvah.  Great weekend and the following is my diary with some Kotzker Torah.

Thursday, February 24, 2012:

Departure date.  I was trying to leave before 3:00 PM for my drive to Toronto for Avrumi Perl’s Bar Mitzvah.  Too much drama with my customers and I ended up leaving at 5:00 PM.  My mother, Bubbi Jean, and the two Chase girls were in the car with me for the trip, Penina Leah and Sarah.   Hit rush hour traffic and took an extra 45 minutes.  I told over Yehuda Avneir’s inspirational stories from his speech at the 2008 Lubavitch Shilach convention, the story that Chazzen Silber told to David Willner the Kiddush Hashem his  grandchildren are doing in the IDF.    I listened to two classes on tape.  My son- in-law burned them for me last week when I was in Indianapolis.  I heard Eli Mansour and Zacharya Wallerstein.  Both were excellent, both talked about faith and belief in God – Emunah and Bitachon.   Eli Mansour talked how we think one thing and the opposite happens.  Hamen set up a tree 50 Amos high for Mordechai.   Hamen was on top of the world, and within a few days he was hanging from  the tree.   Zecharya Wallerstein spoke that we cannot live in the past and dwell on our sins.  We have to always look forward.  Zecharya Wallerstein quoted a Midrash that said when Hamen was walking home at the height of his glory; he stopped into a Yeshiva to see what the students were learning.  They were learning the laws of the incense that the Cohen burned on the alter, the laws of Kemitzah.  Hamen goes homes and tells his family that despite the fact that there is a decree to kill all Jews and that Hamen was at the peak of power and influence, the Jews would prevail and all is lost.

The meaning of this Midrash per Zacharya Wallenstein is that Hamen expected the students to be studying the laws of Kiddush Hashem, how to die sanctifying Gods name due to their impending destruction at the hands of Hamen and Achesveirosh.  Yet the students were looking toward the future when the Temple would be rebuilt in Jerusalem.  They looked forward and not back.   They did not beg Hamen for mercy.  They ignored Hamen as if Hamen was meaningless.  This is the concept of Bitachon, everything is in God’s hands and Hamen is a puppet.  He cannot do anything unless God wants it to happen.   This is the message of the Midrash.

Arrived in Toronto at 3:00 AM. 

Friday, February 14, 2012:

Woke up at 10:00 AM.  Did not realize it was really 11:00 AM.  Spoke to work and arrived at the boat Synagogue at 11:30 AM, hoping to catch a Minyan.  It was then that I realized how late it was.   I went up the Amud to lead the prayer services.  We had 4 people praying with us, not a Minyan, however, we davened as if we had a MInyan, including saying Kiddusha out loud.  We read from the Torah and davened Musaf together.  It was highly satisfying for me.  After the prayer services, I spoke about my joy at davening with other Jews at this late hour, as we all felt connected.   I told over the story of the Kotzker when he was in yeshiva in Zamusz.  One morning when the Kotzker was late in praying morning services, the dean of the school, Rabbi Yosef Hochgalenter 1740 -1807, chased the Kotzker to the Synagogue.  The Kotzker bolted the doors and davened.

At Shul I saw Rabbi Yosef Spiro, my roommate from Ner Yisroel in Toronto.  He is not well.  He needs a kidney transplant.  I asked him for a D’var Halalch.  He told me about the law of “C’dei Achelas Peras”, that to be considered a valid Acelah -“eating” for Jewish law, the complete eating has to be within a certain time limit called “C’dei Achelas Peras” .   Rabbi Spiro said that there is a disagreement between the Mishna Berurah and the Pri Migadim or the Magan Avrohom that to say the grace after meals one  has to have an Acelah.  The question is what happens if one eats less than the amount that is considered an Aceliah, but one is satisfied, does he have to say grace after meals.  The Mishna Berurah says no and the Pri Migadim says yes.

One of the 4 people praying with us is from the old city of Jerusalem was Goldberg, and is good friends with Rabbi Yosef Soloveichik, “Joe Brisker”.

After Shul, I received a call from work that highly agitated me.   I raised my voice at a customer over the phone. 

Afterwards, I went to Pesach Chase’s house for lunch and talk.  My mother, my sister, Karen, and Karen’s daughter were there.  We had a great time.  We told over the family stories and they were just as funny as when I heard them the first time.

I had to go to the bank to take care of something and just made it back just in time to get ready for Shabbos.


Friday Night, Shabbos, Parshas Trumah, and February 24, 2012:

Arrived to Tzi’vi and Chaim Perl’s house for the Friday night meal.    It was great seeing all of the family.  The kids are growing up.

Tzi’vi and Chaim’s kids were there, including their married son; Moshe Yaakov and Miriam and their baby,  Yitzchok and Bracha’s and kids were there from New York including their two older yeshiva boys; Mayer and Chana  and kid; Elisheva and Yossi and their daughter,  and Sholem Chase. I sat next to Pesach, Esther, and my mother.

Great food, everything was home made.  Great speeches.    Went back to the place I was staying.  Could not sleep as I was still agitated from before Shabbos.  Schmoozed with Karen and my mother.

Saturday Morning, Shabbos, Parshas Trumah, February 25, 2012:

Arrived at Synagogue at 10:00 AM, a little late, as the prayer services started at 8:30 AM.  The Synagogue was on Lawrence Avenue at the old Yesodai Torah Shul.  It was established in the 1950’s by Holocaust survivors who came from Hungary.   The Bar Mitzvah boy is named after his great – grandfather, Avrohom Friedman, who prayed at the Synagogue.    Avrohom Friedman owned a wholesale dry goods warehouse in Toronto, supplying small grocery stores.  Mr. Friedman closed his place of business at noon every Friday to prepare for Shabbos, learn, and make it to Shul early.

Avrumi Perl read from the Torah like poetry.  His leining was clear, loud, with every word pronounced with the Trop perfect.  I only heard one missed trop sound.  I sat next to a Mr. Blumenfeld.  Mr. Blumenfeld is married to a Kaiser.  I went to Yeshiva with his wife’s brother, Mike Kaiser.  Mr. Blumenfeld ’s father came to America with his sister in 1939.  Unfortunately the rest of his family could not get out of Europe and they perished.  His father was on General Douglas Macarthur’s staff in the Philippines during World War II.  Mr. Blumenfeld said that his father worshipped General Macarthur.  His father got his college degree on the GI bill.

The Kiddush was lively.  I asked Helen Friedmen for a Brocha.  Helen Friedman is Esther Chase’s mother and the great-grandmother of Avrumi.  I talked to the Chaim Perl’s siblings and told them that I met their first cousin, David Willner.   I told them the great work David Willner is doing with Rabbi Barnei Selevan.  

I met a Mr. Eckstein who was visiting from Brooklyn, NY.  Eckstein is in the insurance business.  We began to play Jewish Geography and I mentioned that I met a Joseph Eckstein from Queens last summer in LA at the ice cream store on Robertson.  Eckstein tells me that Joseph Eckstein is his brother.   Joseph Eckstein’s father-in-law ate by my cousins in Queens this past Rosh Hashana.  Small world.

After the meal went back to Tzi’vi and Chaim’s  house for the rest of the afternoon.  I was asked to speak.  I read two great stories of the greatness of the Kotzker Rebbe.  Kotzker Story #1 – The Chidushai Harim’s Manuscript.  Kotzker Story #2 – The Avnei Nezer’s Pshat in a Rambam.

After Shabbos slept for an hour, then went back to Tzi’vi and Chaim’s house for more food and talk.

Sunday, February 26, 2012:

Went to the boat synagogue for morning prayers.  The person leading the prayers was Yehuda Berkowitz.  I blogged about him earlier.  Yehuda Berkowitz is from Har Nof,  Israel and ate over my house a few  weeks earlier on a Friday night.  Yehuda Berkowitz left Chicago and I felt bad that he left Chicago without my donation.  I gave him what I was planning to give him.

Drove back to Chicago in less than 8.5 hours.

Great weekend, great times.